Monday, September 12, 2011

Ultra Marathon Training

Just off the trail that winds around Greenfield Lake, my new favorite place for long runs.

Yesterday, I trained for an ultra marathon. Sort of. I have a new friend in my program (a fellow first year) named M. and she's training for a 62 mile race that takes place in two weeks. When I heard about M.'s race, I got excited - I needed some local running friends and the best ones are those who are a thousand times more hardcore than yourself. In fact, M. was such a good influence on me that I ran eight miles at a faster-than-usual pace, which is easily the farthest that I've run since April. Needless to say, I was very tired and very proud. But mostly very tired.

Because M. is training for an ultra, our run was a little different than I'm used to. Usually I run my runs - meaning I don't take walking breaks and if I have to use a bathroom or tie my shoe or wait for a light to turn green, I stop my watch. M. is planning to finish her race in 19 hours (!!!) and her strategy is to run for 20 minutes and then walk for three. After even a short break, your muscles tighten up and it can be hard to get going again. Walking breaks train your body to adapt to that discomfort and get moving again. This was tough for me after about five miles - I can't imagine how much harder it would be after 40 or 50.

The first 20 minutes flew by. We talked a lot about 9-11 and even paused for a moment of silence under a flag at half mast. The walking break was nice and I had no problem running again once it was over. The second interval was a bit harder. The fourth interval was really hard. Once my Garmin clicked to six miles (my previous long run distance in recent weeks) I hit a wall. Slowed down. Got a side stitch. The mind can be an evil thing. We took a four minute walking break and then there was just a mile left, and I swore I would not stop running until we got to the end of the path. It was a really, really hard mile. But we finished it and clocked eight miles in just over one hour and twenty minutes - an average pace of ten minute miles, WITH walking breaks. Which means that when we were running, our pace was between nine and 9:30. For a long run pace, for me, that is super fast!

I accidentally turned my Garmin off for about a tenth of a mile. Good thing it's a four mile loop.

I came home, read the Internet for a while (I love Get Off My Internets and just discovered the forums. Hours of snarky entertainment.), ate a huge helping of leftover vegan lasagna, and spent the rest of the day catching up on school work. Not too shabby for a Sunday.

And now that I've broken the six mile barrier, I truly feel like I'm in training mode again. Upcoming races I'm planning to enter, just so long as I pay my bills and nothing comes up, include an 8K on October 9th, a half marathon on November 6th, and a four mile Turkey Tofurkey Trot on November 26th. The best part? All of the races are in Wilmington. Such a novelty after traveling to events in East Texas.

As for today, I have still more school work to do (it never really ends), papers to grade, words to write and class to attend. And a yoga class at noon, if I can get enough done before then. Wish me luck!